The “4 Vallées» (4 Valleys) tourist destination in the Swiss canton of Valais ranks among Europe’s largest ski areas offering limitless snow sport possibilities. I just had to see it once again.
Verbier, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, and Thyon make up the 4 Vallées tourism region. All four valleys are linked by a gigantic network of 92 ways to get your mountain high: T-bar lifts, chairlifts, aerial trams, gondola and pendulum lifts.
For winter sports enthusiasts, the snow-guaranteed 4 Vallées snow area is a paradise! You can schuss down more than 250 miles of ski-runs.
It’s not just for the pros; even beginners will find ideal conditions on the versatile network of runs. At Siviez or Haute Nendaz, you can’t help but smile when you see the little ones trying their first downhill glide with a massive backward lean ;-)
But the area also has plenty to offer for snowshoe and ski touring, not to speak of walking in a winter wonderland: more than 60 miles of marked winter trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hiking makes the winter sports aficionado’s and nature lover’s heart beat faster.
Today, we won’t make it over all 60 miles, but still cover quite a few…
High alpine Mont Fort mountain range
At almost 11,000 feet, Mont Fort mountain is the winter sports area’s tallest peak.
Whether you come from fashionable Verbier with its W Designhotel (read our travel blog post here in a new window), from the Nendaz and Veysonaz family vacation spots or even from the less well-known villages of La Tzuoumaz and Thyon — from each of these places you are lofted via modern lift facilities from peak to peak all the way to magical Mont Fort.
The trip to Mont Fort is worthwhile, with or without skis. The 360 degree panorama is one of a kind! The view from here takes in the Matterhorn, Grand Combin, and Mont Blanc!
“Balade Panoramique” winter hiking trail
During our stay at the Hôtel Nendaz 4 Vallées we set out on the winter hiking trail named “Balade Panoramique” from Tracouet to Plan du Fou. Just the names alone sounds enticing and are sure to please Walter…
But before we set out on our walk, we first let ourselves be transported by gondola car from Nendaz to airier heights, namely to Tracouet at 7,200 feet above sea level.
From there, the well-marked and panoramic high altitude leads to Les Fontaines past more than 250 larch trees that range in age from 300 to 800 years!
From Les Fontaines we take the gondola up to Plan du Fou. Here, too, at nearly 8,000 feet, the view is breathtaking.
Our next gondola ride takes us to the other side of the valley toward Siviez.
Facts about the “Balade Panoramique” winter hiking trail
Hiking time: 1 h 20 m.
Distance covered: 3.1 miles
From Siviez, you can take the postal bus back to Nendaz. But, we hadn’t got our fill yet of the Valais “winter wonderland” — so, we indulged in one more winter walk, this one to the Cleuson Dam.
Winter hiking trail to Cleuson Dam
Just outside Siviez, we crossed a little bridge and took the Route du Barrage that passes right under the valley station of the Combatseline chairlift. The trail follows the course of Printse creek.
The snow-covered mountain landscape exerts a fairytale effect that even the nearly 300-foot high wall of the Cleuson Dam visible from quite a distance does little to lessen. This route loops back to Siviez from here.
Facts about the Cleuson winter hiking trail
Hiking time: 1 h
Distance covered: 2.1 miles
By now it is lunchtime and Walter falls into his legendary hunger hole. I just manage to save him with the last of my energy and a vegan energy bar (my goodness!) into the Restaurant Les Bergers. That was in lieu of the Pizzeria Chez Odette next door because all tables in the sun were already taken there.
And then it just so happens that the revitalizing hamburger with pommes frites was sold out! My nerves…
So, we fly blind and order the galettes de Sarrasin. It’s the most plentiful item on the menu. Could there be a reason?
And indeed: under a mountain of arugula hides a fine crust made of cheese? or could it be egg? Help, anyone, from the other side of the Swiss Franco-German cultural divide?
The tourist office, by the way, offers very comprehensive maps and information for all winter activities, not least for the snowshoe tours and the winter hiking trails.
You can also find out about the various winter hiking routes on the 4 Vallées website (opens in a new window).
4 Vallées, a mecca for paragliders
The 4 Vallées also appears to be a paradise for paragliders. Already on Mont Fort you see the sky dotted with many of the colorful “wings”.
On Plan du Fou also, the paragliders line up as one after the other lifts off. The ratrac snow plow has made runways in the deep snow just for them.
We stayed this time in the Hotel Nendaz 4 Vallées & Spa. Here’s our review in German in a new window.
That’s because during our last visit to the region we stayed at the W Verbier Designhotel. It was also a good choice.
And, like last time, this time, too, we traveled here in comfort by train. This savvy lady lets the train take the strain ;-)